4 Predictions That Will Shape Retail Marketing in 2020
Over the past decade, retail has undergone a number of shifts that have redefined how consumers find and purchase products. An analyst looking ahead from 2010 would have struggled to predict many of the changes we've seen, especially the ways in which the rise of smart devices have disrupted the retail experience. As we head into 2020, it's equally difficult to predict the scale of the changes to come. From same-day shipping to social commerce, here are four predictions that will shape retail marketing this year:
1. Personalization Will Drive More Brand Loyalty — on and Offline
The story of retail in the 2010s has been one of consumers increasing willingness to make purchases online. Even items that would once have been unthinkable to buy without vetting in person, such as mattresses and even cars, are now readily available from a variety of online retailers.
Despite that, physical retail locations undoubtedly still have a major role to play for most brands — not least because in many retail categories, consumers still prefer to visit a store over shopping online. Indeed, in one recent study conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of Coldwell Banker, 50 percent of consumers indicated that they would be willing to pay more in a physical store to get personalized service from in-store personnel.
This trend toward increased personalization has been evolving online since the birth of e-commerce, and will continue in 2020 as more brands create online experiences to inspire shoppers and guide them through a customer journey that offers both digital and physical touchpoints.
Improved personalization will also help consumers to discover new products based on their existing tastes. Indeed, this area represents a major opportunity for brands to develop a sense of connection and loyalty with consumers. According to a recent Toluna survey, 87 percent of shoppers say that brands help them find the right products when planning for holiday shopping.
2. Social Commerce Will Continue to Grow
Over the past few years, many brands have realized social media’s potential for raising awareness about their products and services. As the tech landscape has shifted towards mobile-first, consumers have become ever-more-online, creating an opportunity for brands to not just use social media as a digital storefront, but to drive sales directly through social channels.
In 2020 and beyond, social commerce will represent an increasing share of the overall e-commerce market, while also helping brands with the personalization of customer journeys described above. Platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok will be the most important venues for brands seeking to attract digital window shoppers, especially among the emerging younger generations of consumers.
3. Influence Will Matter More
The days of brands hiring a major movie star or musician to front a national or global ad campaign seem to be waning, in large part because of media fragmentation. However, while consumers may not respond as strongly to a campaign fronted by George Clooney as they used to, influencer culture offers brands an opportunity to target their products to highly specific demographics. This again ties into increasing personalization of product marketing.
Whether from celebrities, influencers or trusted peers, consumers across all age groups value comments and reviews on products, and use these to help shape their purchasing decisions. And the information that informs these decisions goes far beyond traditional concerns such as an item’s fit or color. Consumers also take issues such as a brand’s reputation for customer service or its environmental and political stances into account. With an election looming in November, these factors will be of the utmost importance for brands.
4. Shipping Times Will Differentiate Winners and Losers
As the dominant online retailer of our age, Amazon.com has raised the bar on consumer expectations and rewritten most of what we know about retail across almost every product category. However, the one area where Amazon — and every other e-commerce outlet — can’t compete with physical retailers is speed.
Yes, online consumers can browse an endless list of products and make purchases from almost any location, 24 hours a day. But when it comes to instant gratification? That’s an experience that has largely been reserved for visitors to brick-and-mortar stores.
In 2020, the ability of online retailers to provide near-instant access to products is the next wave of e-commerce evolution. This means that brands will be exploring everything from improvements in logistics to partnering with physical outlets (as Amazon has done with Kohl’s) to outsourcing delivery at scale.
As we move further into 2020, there's no question that the rapid evolution of the retail landscape will continue as brands try everything they can to gain a competitive edge. By focusing on the above and keeping every stage of the buyer journey — from content personalization to same-day delivery — in mind in your marketing strategy, you can ensure that your brand stays relevant, no matter where the trends may take you.
Jay Rampuria is executive vice president of business development at Toluna, an ITWP Company that provides consumer insights designed to empower success in today's on-demand, global economy.
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